Monthly Archives: October 2013

Re-visiting “What the children didn’t know”

Happy 200th birthday, Sepia Saturday.

2013.10W.04 I have only been a member of Sepia Saturday for three months which is only 7% of its lifetime.  So I was hesitant about re-publishing a post which was only made two months ago. But writing the post was a revelation to me as I started researching what was happening on the date which was written on the photo. This is a method I will continue to use whenever I know when a photo was taken but hopefully won’t be quite as long-winded in future.Garden party

Our theme for  today is groups of three. These three girls were  prizewinners at Mrs Burnell’s  garden Castlemaine, Central Victoria, on Nov 16th, 1940 . It was part of the way into World War II, when raising money for war effort charities such as the Comfort Fund, Red Cross or Bundles for Britain was the usual reason for holding a money-raising event. It was such a patriotic time, not so long after the last coronation and a new king, with the country at war.  Best dresses and hats were brought out  for this special occasion, and the pram reflects the feeling at the time  with its crown, its Australian flags and red, white and blue bunting.. Crepe paper was the standard material for these creations, willingly constructed by parents. .  And the special doll Elizabeth was  named ,of course, after Princess Elizabeth.

A typical pretty, peaceful, family album picture of the time.  But it is what the picture doesn’t show which makes it interesting to me.  When the two girls on the right got out of bed that morning they had probably been primed to wish their mother a happy birthday.  It was her forty-first birthday.  But they would have been blissfully unaware of the reaction of their parents when they opened their morning newspaper of choice, the Argus, from Melbourne, and its news of the war from England. .Two nights before the worst bombing raid on the city of Coventry was carried out.  Over 4000 homes were destroyed and over 500 people killed. Coventry was the home of the  children’s 90  year old maternal great grandmother.  I don’t know long it was to be before the Australian family  found out that she was alive and well and was to live for another two years. Then on the night of the garden party the Royal Air Force  retaliated by bombing Hamburg.

But the children weren’t aware of this.

The Ruins of Coventry Cathedral
The Ruins of Coventry Cathedral

Also on the other side of the world and on that same day the Warsaw ghetto was closed to the outside world by the Nazis. In the previous month the Jewish people of Warsaw, about one third of the total population , had been rounded up by the Nazis and  confined to a small are of the city, These 400,000 people were held behind three metre high walls topped with barbed wire.  And on this fatal day the gap was closed.  Thirty percent  of the population crowded into two and a half percent  of the area.

But the children in Castlemaine weren’t aware of this

chilldren in warsaw ghetto

or of a group of three children in the ghetto in Warsaw,

The garden party was held at the home of Mr and Mrs Burnell, a beautiful home with a large front lawn suitable for all the stalls and competitions that go with a fund-raising garden party.    It was directly across the road from  Thompson’s Englineering  & Pipe Works, established in 1875, where Mr Burnell was the General Manager.  He had won the MC during WorldWar I.  Thompson’s was the most important business in Castlemaine, commonly known as Thompson’s Foundry  and was spread out alongside the main railway line from Melbourne to Bendigo, an ideal position for transporting the heavy goods which  it made, a wide range of steam-engines, boilers, mining machinery, railway equipment and centrifugal pumps. But during World War II they made  artillery and tank guns, marine engines, circulating pumps and other heavy forging and foundry work.

Making guns for war, what  the children didn’t know.

How's this for a crankshaft ?
How’s this for a crankshaft ?

The  eldest girl in the photos remembers the workmen on their pushbikes, four and five abreast, sweeping up and down the Main Street on their way to and from work. With such a large work force the foundry had a piercing whistle  which screamed out at 7.00am, 7.20am and 7.30am. There was no excuse for being late for work and the whole town and beyond had its own non-negotiable alarm clock.

Small towns are such a web of people and places.  The mother of the two girls on the right had originally come to Castlemaine with her parents as from 1923 to 1928 her father worked in the office at Thompson’s and was Bandmaster of Thompson’s Foundry Band. This is the same man who brought a book on Shakespeare with him when he came to Australia.  The man really did have itchy feet and jumped as bandmaster from one small country town to another several times. The Foundry has had its own brass band since  1887 and 24 members of the band served in World War I, six of whom were killed.  I have no figures for the Second World War.

When is the world going to learn .


Thompson's in 1960
Thompson’s in 1960

And for more interesting stories about groups of three, click on the links in Sepia Saturday.


Minstrels at Apollo Bay

PierrotBand Anzac Day c1920

Dressing Up in its many forms is this week’s theme for Sepia Saturday.  so here is a  group of minstrels from  the small community of Apollo Bay on the south-west coast of Victoria. They used to take part in the Anzac Day and Peace processions and perform in the town’s amateur concerts. To describe their costumes, well I would say they are undescribable.apart from the conductor, Charles Fricke Snr. who is in top hat and tails.

And for music, apart from their voices,   I can see two drums and two tambourines. but no banjo which were frequently used with a Minstrel group.  The man fourth from the left is possibly “playing the spoons” as a third percussion instrument.  It’s a long while since I’ve seen anyone do that.. All you need is two spoons out of the cutlery drawer held between adjacent fingers with the bowls back to back Here are a couple of experts demonstrating.

Aren’t they just great ! I’ve been giving it a try.  It would need a lot of practice to get that good.

Then of course there is the blackface. theatrical makeup.  It is recorded in Minstrel shows back in the 1840s in entertainments for a general audience and faded out with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s.  I know how some people regard it but you know there is no praise like imitation.  And as a non-American looking back I can see it as a tribute to the beautiful singing voices and harmonies  which you hear when black Americans sing in groups.

One legacy of this Minstrel group in Apollo Bay is the handing down of one of the songs which they used to sing.  Perhaps it might be better to call it a Chinese Whisper as it hasn’t been written down, simply sung from generation to generation.  So the following version hopefully bears some resemblance to its origins.  The song originated in America and I have recently found other versions but at some stage this one has been Australianized.

I Itook my girl to a fancy do, it was a social hop.

We stayed until the dance was o’er and the music it had stopped.

I took her to a restaurant, the finest in the street

She said she wasn’t hung-er-y but this is what she ate.

A lobster’s claw and a crocodile jaw, some pickle and some toast

Some Irish Stew, potatoes too. corned beef and lamb roast

She said she wasn’t thirsty but  she had an awful tank

And after eating all these things this is what she drank

A gin cocktail, a glass of ale, and a great big glass of beer

Some ginger pop, some rum on top, she make me shake with fear.

She said she’d bring her family round some day and have some fun.

I gave the man the eighteen pence and this is what he done.

He broke my nose, he tore my clothes, he hit me a-side of the jaw,
He gave me a prize of a pair of black eyes and with me wiped the floor,
He caught me where my pants hung loose and tossed me o’er the fence,
“Take my advice, don’t try it twice when you’ve only got eighteen pence!”
And for more examples of family remebrances of Dressing Up go to the links listed on Sepia Saturday

The First Day of the Rest of his Life

Journal imageA New Start – With his wife and two small children he stepped on board the Princess Royal in Glascow.  The year was 1852 and  It was the first step into a new life in faraway Australia.  Glaud and Grace Pender had left Fauldhouse in West Lothian with 3 year old Mary Ann and 21 month old William.

Glaud was to keep a journal of the trip.  Here is a transcript of  some of the entries.  Those in italics have been added by Glaud  at some later date.

June 1852
22nd     Aboard  the  Princess Royal.   Clearing  away  from  Old
Scotland while Glascow is only to seen in the  distance.
It  now  seems  to  me as if all  the  former  scenes  ,
Circumstances   and  enjoyments  of  my  life   combined
together rush upon ….. with a force I will not attempt
to describe as I am borne away from my native Land and
from those dear friends Some of whom in all probability
I will never meet again. Hundreds of people assemble on
the banks of the Clyde to witness our departure, while
their hearty cheers are accepted and returned by the
Emigrants in the way of a kind Farewell.
23rd     After  a  rather  unpleasant  passage  we  arrive   at
Liverpool at 2 pm.  A River Steamer takes the  emigrants
across to the Birkenhead.  all is bustle and confusion.
Emigration   scenes  are  certainly  both  curious   and
24th     In  the Depot very uncomfortable  quarters.   Some  are
crying bad meat, others bad beds, and many have occasion
to cry lousy bed.  PS it might not be out of place here
         from experience to Remark as my opinion that the great
         sickness on board the Marco Polo was in great measure to 
         to  be  attributed  to the very bad  treatment  in  that 
         Pandemonium  they  call  the Depot.   This  disease  was 
         planted in the constitutions of the young where (it) lay
         concealed but a few days.  There followed those awful
         scenes aboard our splendid ship which will never be
         erased from my memory.

The Marco Polo which brought them to Australia

The Marco Polo which brought them to Australia

28th     we have slept our first night on board the  Marco  Polo
and feel much more comfortable.  In my opinion she is  a
fine  ship and said to be a very fast sailer.   Some  of
the  Passengers  already begin to dispute how  long  she
will be in making to Australia.  One of the single women
is supposed to have lost her reason.  at night she leapt
out of bed and with one of the lights in her hand began
to dance naked on the deck.  I upon hearing the screams
of the women ran into their appartment and got    after
which the doctors conveyed her to the hospital.  it is
doubtful whether she will be allowed to proseed on her
29th     We move out of the dock and anchor in the River.
30th     A  number of Gentlemen dine on board on the  poop  deck
with a fine Instrumental band in attendance. I observe
there is a good hospital on board.  I hope its use will
not be much required on the passage.
July 1   one of the Passangers gave birth to a child.
2nd      In the evening a dance by the Sailors and a few of the
Passangers on the Top Gallant Forecastle , a number of
Passengers on the rigging looking on.   Some of the
Sailors got up and tied a poor Highlander to the shrouds
amidst roars of laughter from Those on deck.
3rd      One  of  the  Sailors  fell  overboard.   The   Captain
discovering  it  instantly  leapt  into  the  water  and
succeeded in taking him out not much the worse.  In the
evening a farewell service on board.  text in the 16
Chapter of Proverbs.  wisdom is more to be desired than
Gold.   the  speaker addressed us in a  very  impressive
manner entreating as new scenes, new desires and new
hopes  were  before  us  not to  forget  the  one  thing
4        (Sunday) half past six AM  Weighed anchor.   A  Steamer
taking  us in tow we begin to move away  for  Australia.
The Steamer after taking us over the bar left us with a
fine breeze in our favour.  O may God be with us to
Protect and to Prosper us on The voyage.
5.       Beating up the Channel, a steady breeze ahead, …..
little speck
7.       I have seen for the first time what they say is whales
blowing sending the water up a great height.  I think
the hoes (?) of an ordinary fixed engine playing direct
up would much resemble the blowing of a whale.  There is
also a great many porpoises sporting about the ship.
sometimes  they leap 2 feet above the water so  that  we
can see them quite distinctly.  They are ugly brutes.
They  have a snout like a pig which gives them their name
of Sea pigs.
8.       Off the Bay of Biscay.  have been on watch  all  night.
The passengers taking it by rotation.  a child died last
night being the first death on board.  I fear there will
be  many such deaths before we get to Australia.   There
is  such a number of children on board.  O God  –  thank
and praise thee that we are all still in health and free
from  sickness and able to attend to our duties  and  to
our children.  six PM.  Spoke a French vessel bound for
England who will report us.
9.       at  7 AM.  The funeral ceremony of the child  Who  died
yesterday  took place.  A little weight being  put  into
the  box along with the corpse it still floated  on  the
water  untill  it  dissappeared in  the  distance  which
caused  great  dissatisfaction amongst  the  Passengers.
Light Northerly breezes.
10.      Off  Cape  St  Vincent   about  1200  miles  sail  from

The Journal of this voyage with Captain “Bully” Forbes continued until July  25th and then ceased.  His son William died of measles on September 2nd. Measles and Influenza led to the deaths of 51 children and 2 adults on this voyage .

Glaud and  Grace went on to have six more chldren in Australia.

FiveGenerationsThis photo taken lin Apollo Bay  c1908,after his wife Grace had died, shows five generations of his family,  Glaud in the centre, daughter Mary Ann Telford to the right, her son Walter Telford at the back, Walter’s daughter Julia Fricke to the left with her son Charles Fricke at her knee.

2013.09W.19And for more examples of “Starting something new” check out the links on Sepia Saturday

A plane crash at Hay, 1927

I have talked about Tom Tansey who was bandmaster at Hay in south-west New South Wales from 1919 to 1923.  When he and the family left town  they left behind people  who were to become life-long friends and daughter Vera left behind a fiance, later to become an ex-fiance.

So it is no surprise that that they kept in touch with these people and occasionally they were sent photos taken in Hay.  Two such photos were taken on December 27th 1927.  It was big news in the town as that afternoon  a passenger aircraft called Satin Bird had crashed when taking off from the Hay airfield. I’ll use these for today’s theme which is blurred photos

A Satin Bird Crash 1927B Satin Bird Crash 1927The plane had come from Adelaide that morning and on board were the pilot and mechanic, two English lady exchange teachers, a Japanese couple on a honeymoon trip and a Hay resident.

Just like today’s papers you are not quite sure what to believe.

The plane is not beyond repair OR the plane is a total write-off.

Came from Adelaide OR  came from Melbourne.

Is in hospital in a serious condition OR no-one was detained.

Now the pilot”s name was Basil Daish and it seems he was to have an interesting life.  Look what the Sydney Morning Herald and others  reported on him  in November 1930.

Aviator Stuns Woman To Stop Her Jumping From Plane


SYDNEY, Sunday.— Five hundred feet above Mascot Aerodrome yesterday, Capt. Basil Daish, formerly of Australian Aerial Services, had to knock a woman unconscious to prevent her from hurling herself from the plane. During the struggle the woman’s hands came in contact with the controls, and it was with the greatest difficulty that Capt. Daish prevented a crash. She was later taken to a reception house. After telling the police that she had intended to leap out of the plane, she said she was living apart from her husband. The pilot was hired for a flight that would have taken I5 minutes, but he had not been long in the air when the woman, who was in the front cockpit, tried to leap from the plane. Capt. Daish struggled with her. but was fighting: a losing battle when he decided to knock her unconscious.

HIT ON CHIN .He hit her on the chin and then descended. Just before landing the woman regained partial consciousness and made another attempt to leave the plane. Capt. Daish pushed her back. She was taken from the machine in an hysterical condition and rushed to South Sydney Hospital. Before that the police are alleged to have found a bottle of poison in her possession. Capt. Daish said tonight that’ when half-.way between Mascot and the Harbour Bridge he saw the woman stand up. The safety belt was undone. After realising what she intended to do. he tried to force her back, keeping one hand on the controls. The plane sideslipped several times. She fought back, and In the struggle her coat was torn and It wrapped itself around his head. He threw it clear, and again tried to force his passenger into her seat.. As he thought that he was losing altitnde. he took the extreme action of striking her. In the struggle a wire stay  and glass in the cockpit were smashed .

But to come back to Hay.  Here are a couple more 1920s photos of  of a plane at Hay airfield, one which Vera Tansey was about to board. One can only wonder if they were also photos of the Satin Bird,

In the first photo she and her fiance are  the couple to the right
Plane at Hay 1920s
whereas in tthe second photo she stands between two other women on the right hand side while her fiance does the man thing and inspects the plane.

Plane - Hay 1920sOther misty photos can be seen through the links  on Sepia Saturday.